The 4-Hour Chef – Cheat Day Sample: Tequila Hot Chocolate


For those of you waiting on the iOS version of the free 4-Hour Chef teaser app, and for anyone who’d like a cheat day experiment this weekend, I offer the following: Tobacco-infused Tequila Hot Chocolate.

It’s absurd, decadent, and more delicious than you can imagine. Here’s the kicker: I usually hate tequila, so this was a revelation.

PLEASE NOTE: This is intended as a really fun DIY project and a rocking cheat drink, not as a time-saving cocktail. There are times for efficiency, and there are times to explore and enjoy life unhurried.

This is the latter, and it’s for FUN. Notice the last part of the subtitle for The 4-Hour Chef, which is “The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learning Anything, and Living the Good Life.”

“There is more to life than increasing its speed,” as Mahatma Gandhi once said.

If you choose to tackle this challenge, share your experience in the comments!

Enter The Aviary

This spectacular drink was taught to me by Craig Schoettler, the executive chef at The Aviary in Chicago, without a doubt the most awe-inspiring “bar-less cocktail kitchen” in the world.

To set the scene: There are 30+ types of ice, and the customers are prevented from harassing the bartenders by a cage barricade. Perhaps you’d like an Old Fashioned served in an ice dinosaur egg? It’s prepared with a syringe, and you drink it after shattering the bourbon-filled casing with a miniature slingshot attached to the glass. Or how about a botanical-infused whiskey that changes colors like a chameleon over the course of 30 minutes? They have that, too.

Of course, you’d expect nothing less from the owners, who also run Alinea, the highest-ranked restaurant in the United States. Bartending through the lens of world-class chefs is otherworldly…

This recipe has been modified to fit a few standard measurements. This takes it from super insanely awesome (The Aviary) to merely very insanely awesome.

Want to see what all this looks like before you get started?

Here’s a video of my very first attempt, uncensored and unprofessional. It ain’t pretty, and that’s the point–even you, as a novice, can make something incredible if you’re willing to fumble a little. Below the video, you’ll find all the instructions you need:

As with all recipes, read through the entire thing before you get started or even go shopping! This will prevent hiccups and guarantee a better (and tastier) buzz.


945 ml / 4 cups Whole milk
40 g / ¼ cup Sugar
1 big pinch / ¼ tsp. Salt
1 Cigar (something cheap is fine)

475 ml / 2 cups Whole milk
40 g / ¼ cup Sugar
1 pinch Salt
100 g / 3½ oz. Bittersweet chocolate, such as Alpaco 66% cacao, chopped

90 ml/g / 3 fl. oz. Tequila, preferably Fortaleza Blanco
10 ml/g / 2 tsp. Fernet-Branca

MAKES: 2 drinks, plus enough cigar milk for more
HANDS-ON TIME: Approx. 20 mins.
TOTAL TIME: Approx. 1 hr. 30 mins., max (30-60 min. of letting the cigar smoke)


• A large baking pan or a roasting pan
• A smaller baking pan for the milk, sugar, and salt

FOR TIM’S GHETTO METHOD (seen in the above video):
• A largish cereal or soup bowl
• A large stock pot
• A candle lighter or butane/lighter torch

• A cigar
• Aluminum foil
• A saucepan or skillet (or both, if you want to melt the chocolate separately)
• An immersion blender, ideally with a cream-whipping attachment or milk frother
• Ice trays (for freezing extra cigar milk for later)

Now, How to Make It


Make the cigar milk foam. You have two choices: the standard home method or the Tim ghetto method.

Standard home method:
• In a baking pan, mix the milk, sugar, and salt.
• Set the pan inside a larger metal baking or roasting pan (choose a disposable one or something you don’t mind smelling like cigars).
• Split the cigar in half lengthwise and place it on a piece of aluminum foil in the larger pan.
• Light the cigar with a candle lighter or a butane lighter/torch, then quickly cover both pans with a piece of aluminum foil. Let smoke for one hour.

Tim ghetto method:
• Mix the milk, sugar, and salt in a largish cereal or soup bowl.
• Put this bowl inside a stockpot. I prefer a large and cheap stockpot (don’t forget to buy a lid!) that I use mostly for cooking sous-vide and lobsters.
• Split the cigar in half lengthwise and place it on a piece of aluminum foil at the bottom of the stockpot.
• Light the cigar with a candle lighter or a butane lighter/torch (remember canisters), cover the pot, and let smoke for 30–45 minutes. Thirty minutes is plenty, in my experience.
• Later, to de-stench your stockpot, just clean it out and leave a bowl of white wine vinegar mixed with peppermint oil inside, covered, for 1–2 hours.

Step 2
While the milk is smoking, make the hot chocolate base. In a saucepan or skillet, combine the milk, sugar, and salt and bring to a simmer.

Step 3
Remove from heat and slowly add the chocolate. I like to put the chips in a separate skillet and slide them in. Do NOT add them by hand, as scalding milk can splash upward and Phantom of the Opera your hands. Stir until chocolate is melted, then cover and set aside.

Step 4
Foam the cigar milk: Pour the milk into a saucepan and heat it to just below a simmer or a light simmer. Use an immersion blender—ideally one fitted with the cream-whipping attachment or a milk frother—to blend until foamy. No attachment? Just blend for 45 seconds, then wait 2–3 minutes for the bubbles to surface.

Step 5
Combine the tequila and Fernet-Branca into one of your serving cups, then pour half of it into the other. You can use a scale, but I just eyeball it. Into each cup, pour about 7 fluid ounces (210 milliliters) of the hot chocolate base and top with some of the cigar milk foam.

Serve warm and love life.

If you don’t finish the cigar milk, freeze it in ice trays to surprise future guests with unusual iced coffee.



The 4-Hour Chef is available for a limited time at 50-80% off list price. Read all the details of the book and learn more here (as well as download the free app for Kindle Fire).

Posted on: December 1, 2011.

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106 comments on “The 4-Hour Chef – Cheat Day Sample: Tequila Hot Chocolate

  1. Tried my hand at making a non-alcoholic version. Full recipe & reasoning for the flavors linked to in my name.

    This was incredibly tasty (though probably nothing like to the real thing) and I probably got lucky with the mixing

    For the Cigar Milk

    4 Cups Vanilla flavored Almond Milk
    6-10 drops liquid smoke
    2 dashes fancy smoked paprika spice
    1 dash cayenne pepper
    ground fresh black pepper.

    I used a milk frother & added the ingredients after it had begun to froth. Real smoked options (paprika/mushrooms) I contemplated are in the link.

    For the Tequila

    3 fl Oz Ginger Beer (Reed’s or Cock N’ Bull)

    For the Fernet-Branca

    1 tsp Worchester Sauce
    1 tsp Sangria Senioral (non-alcoholic)
    chamomile sleepy time tea bag
    2 bay leafs
    19 essential oils, herbs & spices:
    (sri lanka cinnamon, ginseng, echinacea, sage, mhyrr, saffron, st. johns wort, small sliver of mushroom stock cube)
    (essential oils: lemon, lime, fennel*, peppermint*, wild orange, citrus blend,
    frankincense, basil, lemongrass, roman chamomile, cinnamon bark, clove bark, )


  2. As a barista, I can give a couple tips about milk.

    If you have an espresso machine at home, you can get much better quality foam by using the steam wand. Just steam the milk like you would for a latte or what have you. Steaming the milk will give you a much finer quality of foam than blending like you did.

    Steaming also heats the milk, so don’t heat before you steam. Otherwise you’ll get scalded milk (not fun or tasty).

    I would also imagine a shot of espresso being delicious in this drink as well.



  3. Hi Tim, sorry to post here but this could be one of the story’s in your new book?

    I have all your books and would like to try and loose 30kg of fat in 30 day’s and was wondering if you could help me? I think if we incorporate all the 4 hour body weight-loss techniques, exercise and testosterone booster with cold water baths I could drop the excess 30 kg of fat I have collected ;)

    I weight about 120kg now and I think 90kg in a month would be an amazing story! I am 184cm and at 90kg I would still be over weight according to my BMI but with the added muscle I think it would be fine.

    Have a few other questions for you if you have the time? Thanks – KB


  4. Help, I’m bummed. My husband and I have been following the 4 hour body plan for 8 weeks, and have lost very little weight. I lost 15 inches & 5 lbs over the first 3 weeks but have stalled out now. My husband has lost about 10 inces and about 8 lbs and stalled out. I keep re-reading the book chapters and ‘common mistakes’, but can’t figure out why we are not losing more fat. We have really stuck to the plan which is easy with ‘cheat day’. I always (and sometimes my husband) start the day with a whey (30gram) protien smoothie (sweetened only with stevia) also containing avacado, red lentils, green tea, & spinach.The other two meals follow the guidelines. We are totally committed but becoming discouraged. My husband’s weight issues are prompting his doctor to threaten the medifast diet if he doesn’t lose more weight. Please advise… Thank you!


  5. Love that you posted about The Aviary – timely as I just got back from another trip to Chicago and had the pleasure of experiencing “The Office” while I sipped on “Pappy’s” that was served over the largest ice sphere I’ve ever seen! Mr. Achatz has done so many great things with The Aviary and Alinea and “Marlin” was extremely gracious and accommodating.

    Can’t wait to try this recipe.
    Thank you


  6. Tim
    Thanks for this great drink just in time for the holiday. Again you provide value beyond!!! Thanks again and looking forward to the 4 Hour Chef

    Happy Holidays


  7. Hey Tim,
    had to laugh, as always watching this vid. Am living in Holland currently and thinking of a little tweak to the cigar…wink wink nudge nudge say -no-more say-no-more. Whacky tabacky milk and sugar+chocolate= yum. Thanks and see ya in A’dam.


  8. A good drink recipe. One thing I have realized is that there are PLENTY of drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, that are not bad for you and can actually be very healthy. In particular drinks high in fat are pretty good for us, especially if they are non-alcoholic.

    For instance a smoothie made of coconut milk or heavy whipping cream provides a great base of healthy calories, and if you feel like adding rum or some other yummy alcohol it probably won”t kill you. Mark Sisson talks about this a lot, and the book “Fat: The Weight Loss Secret” gives some great example of drinks that taste great and are actually good for you albeit the alcohol content.


  9. Very cool Tim. Can’t wait to try out the Tequila Hot Chocolate!! I am actually an occasional cigar smoker and I’d never heard of this concept.

    As a “muse” project I developed a cooking video contest site with a friend. We are going to post the December contest on 12/6 which as you might expect is Holiday themed. All our visitors need to do is FB “Like” it from our site and that counts as a vote. You get the FB cred! Our typical model is a cash prize at the end of the contest for the video with the most Likes.

    Love the 4-Hour Chef idea and would even be happy to toss your teaser up on our Featured Videos page.

    I like the fact that you shot the video uncensored and unedited. We strongly recommend that our visitors chill out about making the perfect video and just shoot the damn thing and upload it. Here’s the site:



  10. Hey Tim, next time you’re trying to figure out how to foam the milk faster just juse a blender and put it on whip. It does miracles and you won’t have to wait around to heat it up in a pan.


  11. hey tim,
    I am willing to learn Spanish(self-taught), however I have no one that I can speak it with daily. If i follow your method daily, orally and academically will i still be mediocre?


  12. What helps in creating foolproof foam is tilting the container of milk so the emulsion blender can whip in more air.

    If you want to go the extra mile, dissolve a sheet of gelatin after infusing the milk with cigar smoke. That will strengthen the bubble structure so the foam will have longer staying power.

    Looking forward to trying out the cigar milk! Got me thinking about creating a derivative dessert from it… will keep you posted!


  13. Very cool Tim,

    Gotta try this with the guys….. :P

    And I need a good book to learn cooking….. Left home recently and my skills are base. Looking forwar dto beginning my experimentation with you rbook.

    Cheers and have a great new years…..


    • I would say try putting the cigar on a heat resistant (oven-safe?) dish/bowl should work. It will be more of a hassle to clean up afterwards…. and could possibly leave unwanted smell


  14. Dear Tim, love the video but I was laughed seeing you struggle to make the cigar-infused milk frothy. In The Netherlands we like to use a whisk during the last seconds of boiling milk, which we use for hot chocolate or cafe au lait.
    here’s some links to amazon’s whisk collection. Sometimes with cooking you don’t need electic gadgets, as much fun as they are lol

    you can get them in every silly design possible


  15. Michele, you didn’t tell us how much you eat on the cheat days but I recommend you reduce bingeing on the cheat days a little. The book tells you that you can eat whatever you want and that there are not limits, but in my experience the diet works much better if I don’t overdo the cheat day. I stopped losing weight after a couple of weeks at first, but then I tried eating only cheat meals or “cheat halfday” and my weightloss started again. I eat SCD style in the morning and then in the evening I can have pizza and snacks. It’s not much harder but the effects on the diet are huge. Hope it helps!


    • Kim,

      Thank you so much for responding! We’ll cut down the amount we eat on bingle days and see how it goes. On binge days, we usually eat a 4HB breakfast as usual, then have sushi for lunch and some kind of Italian food for dinner… We’ll switch to one binge meal on binge day; probably lunch followed by a 4HB light dinner. And fruit for snacks. Thanks, I’ll let you know how it goes!

      Michele :)


  16. The drink looks good, but for your problems with the foam. But I’m glad to be able to help out with that one, take your milk, whole, skim, hot or cold, and just beat it in a French coffee press for 20 seconds or so. Your resulting foam will be stiffer and hold it’s shape longer than the foam you get through a steam attachment from a cappuccino machine, no other ingredients necessary, and a decent press can cost less than $10 (in a pinch, it makes coffee too).


  17. I have eaten spiders, drank snake blood, and tried other odd delicacies, but I thought the tobacco infused milk sounded disgusting. After reading all the way through and watching the video I think it’s worth a try.


  18. Using heavy whipping cream in place of the milk made for awesome cigar whipped cream (and easier than making bubbles with the milk).

    Baileys irish cream tasted good in place of the tequila.

    Great drink Tim.


  19. Hey Tim!

    Great thing! I´ll try it on my next “everything´s allowed day” ;-)

    By the way thanks for your books – I´m in the process of changing my life! Can´t wait for The 4 Hour Chef (when is it available in germany?)
    I had a little idea for a gadget that suits The 4 Hour Body and The 4 Hour Chef – is there a way to send it to you safely ;-)




  20. Hey Tim (or anyone who can help me out) — I am enjoying the “scrambled egg” section of 4 Hour Chef now, and I was wondering why you call for both a non-tasting oil (grapeseed) and a non stick pan? What is the purpose of the oil? Greetings from Germany. Ryan


  21. FYI, Skim milk froths easier than whole milk (but I’d still go with whole milk).
    Also, cold milk froths easier. I usually stick it in a container in the freezer for a bit before trying to froth.


  22. Lemongrass geniousity!! I do not know if this is the place to put this that you might see, or care! but! I know you said that lemongrass you did not see the price of choking and (something else) worth it, so you used other flavors.

    I store it in the freezer, like with my ginger, and then just grate it with my zestysmallergrater and its like a beautiful snowfall, not fiberous or chokey at all! (same with the ginger!).

    Thought I would share, in case it was helpful to anyone.




  23. Love it! I’ve used hot chocolate mixed with vodka before. It was the only mix in the house that I could think of that I wasn’t allergic to at the time. It was good on ice. I will have try this recipe, however, I will definitely have to find a substitute for the cigar. I just cannot fathom the use of a cigar in food/drink. My hubby on the other hand would probably love this! – chocolate and cigars? Oh yeah!


  24. Going to give this a try at my Brazilian buddy’s annual Christmas Eve party (also a Cuban cigar & tequila “enthusiast”). Normally i make Leite de Onça (Jaguar Milk) but the smoked milk…wow, it’s on.

    If you are sending out a final 2013 newsletter; could be cool to link to this for all the Christmas & NYE parties coming up ?

    love you man !